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How to Start a Corporate Housing Business in UK

Do you want to open a corporate housing company? If YES, here is a 20-step guide on how to start a corporate housing business in UK. Please note that if you intend to start this type of business, it is advisable to first look at the existing laws and zonal regulations in the United Kingdom or the city you reside in to know what is expected of you.

You also need to pay a visit to the regulatory bodies in your city to get all the information you need before you can legally launch your corporate housing business in the United Kingdom. You can start your corporate housing business from a small town in the United Kingdom and if you are good at what you do, it won’t be too long before your brand becomes a nationally recognized brand especially if you go into franchising.

20 Steps on How to Start a Corporate Housing Business

  1. Understand the Industry

Corporate housing is a term in the relocation industry that point toward renting a furnished apartment, condo, or home on a temporary basis to individuals, military personnel, intern groups, or corporations as an alternative to a traditional hotel or an extended hotel stay. Aside from the obvious corporate demand for business travelers and relocating employees, corporate housing also appeals to renters looking for an all-in-one payment accommodation option.

With a variety of potential tenants, including individuals displaced by natural disasters and accommodated through their insurance provider, homeowners remodeling existing properties and students living abroad, the investment potential in the sector is booming.

In the United Kingdom, over the five years through 2020-21, industry revenue is forecast to contract at a compound annual rate of 7 percent to £815 million. Industry operators rent out aparthotel suites and serviced apartments to corporate travelers.

Aparthotels consist of multiple units under one building and offer hotel services such as 24-hour reception and communal areas whereas serviced apartments tend to be independent units that are more spacious and spread out across the city but do not offer receptions services or communal areas.

Aparthotels with innovative communal areas have grown in popularity over the period, with large operators rapidly developing them in city centers across the United Kingdom to increase their appeal.

Some of the factors that encourage entrepreneurs to start their own corporate housing company could be that the business is a highly thriving and profitable and an aspiring entrepreneur can successfully launch the business if they have the required pool of cash.

Lastly, if you are going into the construction of corporate housing, it is very important to be creative to be able to use your ideas to meet the rapidly changing needs of the society when it comes to corporate housing.

  1. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of those who do business with corporate housing companies cut across corporate organizations, corporate travelers and business owners. The truth is that when it comes to renting corporate houses (properties), there is indeed a wide range of available customers.

In essence, your target market can’t be restricted to just the businesses or corporate organizations within your location, but a wide range of corporate organizations in and around the city where you have your business presence.

  1. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On

It is safe to say that there is no niche area in the corporate housing business, however there are several types of corporate housing companies. The most common are local, unit-centered housing companies who have local furnished units that they lease and manage like a hotel.

There are apartment community created furnished units that are managed by the individual apartment communities that setup, furnish, and manage a small part of their unit inventory as furnished units. The last type of corporate housing company is a client-centered model which actually locates and creates fully furnished units for their clientele. These companies must have elaborate systems in place to employ this model. Corporate housing companies offer options for the corporate traveler or relocating family.

The Level of Competition in the Corporate Housing industry

The competition that exists in the line of business goes beyond competition amongst corporate housing businesses in your location; you are expected to compete with other businesses in the real estate industry who are also into renting out serviced apartments. So, it will be right to say the competition in the corporate housing line of business is tough.

The truth is that no matter the level of competition in an industry, if you have done your due diligence and you brand and promote your services or business properly, you will always make headway in the industry. Just ensure that you invest in attractive properties with good return on investment (ROI), you can deliver excellent customer care services and you know how to attract and reach out to your target market.

  1. Know Your Major Competitors

Here are some of the most popular corporate housing companies in the United Kingdom and across the globe;

  • Oasis Corporate Housing | Luxury Living & Temporary
  • National Corporate Housing – Temporary & Short Term
  • Synergy Global Housing
  • edyn Ltd
  • Staycity Investment Holdings Ltd
  • BridgeStreet Accommodations Ltd
  • London Letting & Management Ltd
  • Housing Helpers of Colorado
  • The Cartus Global Network
  • CWS Corporate Housing

Economic Analysis

If you are planning towards successfully launching a business and maximizing profits, then you need to ensure that you get your economic and cost analysis right and try as much as possible to adopt international best practices in the industry you choose to build a business in.

Corporate housing business is not a green business, as a matter of fact; you will come across several corporate housing companies and other players in the real estate industry when you drive through town, search through directories and browse through the internet.

So, if you are mapping out your economic and cost analysis, you should carry out thorough market survey and costing of the required amount needed in renting a space where you are expected to open your corporate housing business, the capital that is required to start building and furnishing apartments and also the cost to successfully run the business.

Over and above, if you are considering starting a corporate housing company, then your concern should not be limited to the cost of renting an office space, but also on branding and on how to build a robust clientele base. The truth is that if you are able to build a robust clientele base, you are sure going to maximize profits in the business.

  1. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to choosing how you intend starting a business. Basically, you should be guided by your overall business vision and mission statement. If you are looking towards starting a corporate housing company in the United Kingdom, you have to start from the very scratch because you can hardly get a franchise of a corporate housing company to buy.

Besides starting a corporate housing company from the scratch is less stressful when compared to other related businesses which usually require detailed groundwork and extensive paper work before launching the business.

With a corporate housing company, you should just try as much as possible to get the required pool cash, the right employees, build business relationship with key stakeholders and investors and then leverage on every marketing tool within your disposal especially the internet when it comes to marketing your services and properties.

  1. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face

If you decide to start your own corporate housing business today in the United Kingdom, one of the major challenges you are likely going to face is the presence of other corporate housing companies, all-purpose property development companies and of course other players in the real estate industry in your target market location.

The only way to avoid this challenge is to create your own market; concentrate on corporate organizations withing your location and startup businesses who need the services of a corporate housing business from time to time. Some other threats and challenges that you are likely going to face when you start your corporate housing business are mature markets, bad economy (economy downturn), stiff competition, volatile costs, and the advent of another pandemic.

The global coronavirus outbreak has resulted in global travel restrictions since December 2019, with industry operators temporarily closing some of their properties to customers. Moreover, tumbling business confidence and local government restrictions are expected to result in many companies freezing non-essential corporate travelling at the expense of industry operators.

This is likely to weigh heavily on industry revenue over the two years through 2020-21. As the market continues to evolve, in light of COVID and the changing travel landscape, serviced accommodation is becoming a more attractive option.

  1. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity

The United Kingdom has a wide array of options that you can choose from if you are looking for a business structure to build your business on. The most important thing is that you should select a business structure that will best serve your overall business vision and mission.

In UK, you have the options of choosing start your business as a Sole trader, Limited company, Private limited company (LTD or Ltd), Public limited company (PLC), Limited liability partnership (LLP) or Guarantee Company (LBG) If you are not sure of which of the business structures to choose from, then consider going through the quick preview below before making your choice;

  • Sole Trader

A sole trader is a business-type where one person owns and runs the entire business. It is the simplest business structure you could adopt. It is very suitable for any one-person business; this includes independent accountants, web developers and gardeners among others.

A sole trader is an individual entitled to all/any profits of the business but is also liable for any debt/damages incurred. In the UK, there are currently over 3 million registered sole traders, and the number is growing with a massive influx of skilled freelancers.

  • Limited Company

A limited company is a legal business structure, that means the business is a separate entity from its owners. This means the owners are only liable for any business debts to the extent of the amount of money they have put into the business, thus limiting any exposure for business owners beyond their total investment. There are two types of limited companies you can incorporate in the UK.

  • Private Limited Company (LTD or Ltd)

In a private limited company, the owners privately hold shares. This is the most common and preferred incorporation structure for most small businesses in the UK. Over 5.2 million limited companies are operating in the UK now.

The bottom line is that if you have plans to grow your small corporate housing brand business beyond yourself (one person) and then sell it, then a Private Limited Company would likely be the most suitable structure. If you are considering operating a mom-and-pop kind of corporate housing brand business or to operate as a one-man business, then a Sole Tradership would probably be the best structure to build your business on.

But if you have plans to build a business brand that has a significant amount of senior management, capital and that deals in services, then a Limited Liability partnership would be the best choice.

  1. Choose a Catchy Business Name from the Ideas Below

Normally, when it comes to choosing a name for your business, you should be creative because whatever name you choose for your business will go a long way to create a perception of what the business represents. Typically, it is the norm for people to follow the trend in the industry they intend operating from when naming their business.

If you are considering starting a corporate housing business in the United Kingdom, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • Golden Gates® Corporate Housing Company PLC
  • Gold Coast® Corporate Housing, Ltd.
  • Expats Abode© Corporate Housing, Ltd.
  • Royal Courts® Corporate Housing Company, Ltd
  • Green Tower™ Corporate Housing Company, Ltd
  • Irwin Jordan & Co™ Real Estate Development Group
  • Lance Goldberg© Corporate Housing Company, Ltd
  • The Sanctuary® Corporate Housing Company, PLC.
  • John Jones© Corporate Housing Company, PLC.
  • Abraham Lexon & Sons© Corporate Housing Company, Ltd
  1. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You

In the United Kingdom and in most countries of the world, you can’t operate a business without having some of the basic insurance policies that are required by the industry you want to operate from. Thus, it is imperative to create a budget for insurance and perhaps consult an insurance broker to guide you in choosing the best and most appropriate insurance policies for your business.

Here is some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you want to start your own corporate housing business in the United Kingdom;

  • General insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Liability insurance
  • Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII)
  • Workers compensation
  • Building/Property insurance
  • Overhead expense disability insurance
  • Business owner’s policy group insurance
  • Employers Liability Insurance (ELI)

You can contact the following leading insurance companies in the United Kingdom to purchase the needed insurance policies for your corporate housing business;

  • Aviva PLC
  • Old Mutual Ltd
  • Prudential PLC
  • RSA Insurance Group PLC
  • Direct Line Group Insurance PLC
  • Hiscox Limited
  • Admiral Group PLC
  1. Protect your Intellectual Property with Trademark, Copyrights, Patents

If you are considering starting your own corporate housing company, usually you may not have any need to file for intellectual property protection/trademark. This is because the nature of the business makes it possible for you to successfully run the business without having any cause to challenge anybody in court for illegally making use of your company’s intellectual properties.

But if you just want to protect your company’s logo and other documents or software that are unique to you or even jingles and media production concepts, then you can go ahead to file for intellectual property protection.

  1. Get the Necessary Professional Certification

Aside from the results you produce as it relates to running a corporate housing company, professional certification is one of the main reasons why some corporate housing companies stand out. If you want to make an impact in the corporate housing industry, you should work towards acquiring all the needed certifications in your area of specialization.

Certification validates your competency and shows that you are highly skilled, committed to your career, and up-to-date in this competitive market. These are some of the certifications you can work towards achieving if you want to run your own corporate housing company;

  • Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM)
  • Real Estate Investment Certificate
  • Real Estate Professional Assistant (REPA) Certification
  • Certified Commercial Real Estate Advisor (CCREA)
  • Chartered Real Estate Professionals – CREP
  • Degree/Diploma in Real Estate and Building Engineering Related Courses

Please note that you cannot successfully run a corporate housing company in the United Kingdom without necessarily acquiring professional certifications even if you have adequate experience cum background in the real estate industry.

  1. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate

It is a fact that you cannot successfully run any business in The United Kingdom without the proper documentations. If you do, it won’t be too long before the long hands of the law catch up with you. These are some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally run your own business in The United Kingdom;

  • PAYE
  • Business License (Real Estate License and Real Estate Broker License)
  • Business and liability insurance
  • Council Permit
  • Global Real Estate License (Optional)
  • Tax Payer’s ID / Tax Identification Number
  • Business Plan
  • Employment Agreement (offer letters)
  • Insurance Policy
  • Online Terms of Use (if you have a website)
  • Online Privacy Policy Document (basically for online payment portal)
  • Company Bylaws
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
  1. Raise the Needed Startup Capital

Starting a corporate housing business is capital intensive even if you choose to start on a small scale. Securing a standard office space in a business district, and raising working capital et al are part of what will consume a large chunk of your startup capital.

If you choose to start the business on a large scale, you would need to go source for fund to finance the business because it is expensive to start a standard large scale corporate housing business. No doubt when it comes to financing a business, one of the first things you should consider is to write a good business plan.

If you have a good and workable business plan document in place, you may not have to labor yourself before convincing your bank, investors and your friends to invest in your business. Here are some of the options you can explore when sourcing for startup capital for your corporate housing business;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of personal stocks and properties
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Sell shares to interested investors
  • Applying for loan from your bank
  • Source for soft loans from your family members and your friends.
  1. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business

Generally, in business, it cannot be overemphasized that the location you choose to start your business is key to the success of the business, hence entrepreneurs are willing to rent or lease a facility in a visible location; a location where there are high real estate activities and corporate organizations with the required purchasing power, and lifestyle.

If you make the mistake of renting or leasing an office facility for your real estate development business in a not too visible or hidden location simply because it is cheap, then you must be prepared to spend more in promoting the business.

It is important to note that a business facility in good location does not come cheap hence you should be able to allocate enough fund for leasing/renting in your budget. If you are new to the dynamics of choosing a location for your business, then you should feel free to talk to a business consultant or a realtor. Having said that, these are some of the cities in the United Kingdom where you can locate your corporate housing business;

  • London
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham-Wolverhampton
  • Leeds-Bradford
  • Glasgow
  • Southampton-Portsmouth
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  1. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs

There are no special technology or equipment needed to run a corporate housing company but you will definitely need computers/laptops, internet facility, telephone, fax machine and office furniture (chairs, tables, and shelves) amongst others and all these can be gotten as fairly used.

As regards leasing or outright purchase of an office facility, the choice is dependent on your financial standings, but the truth is that to be on the safe side, it is advisable to start off with a short – term rent/lease while test running the business in the location. If things work out as planned, then you go on a long – term lease or outright purchase of the property but if not, then move on and source for other ideal location/facility for such business.

When it comes to hiring employees for a standard corporate housing company with plans to have corporate clients all across major cities in the United Kingdom, you should make plans to hire a competent Chief Executive Officer / President (you can occupy this role), Admin and Human Resources Manager, Project Manager, Company’s Lawyer/Secretary, Head of Construction, Head of Assets Management, Head of Acquisition and Disposition, Real Estate Agents/Sales and Marketing Officer, Accounting Clerk, and Front Desk Officer.

On the average, you will need a minimum of 5 to 10 key staff members to run a small – scale but standard corporate housing company. Please note that this number does not include workers in construction sites.

The Service Delivery Process of a Corporate Housing Business

The way corporate housing companies work vary from one company to another, but ideally, a corporate housing company is expected to first and foremost build a robust company profile, and pool investment capital from investors before going out there to acquire properties, renovate and equip the properties and then put the properties for lease or rent.

Before a deal is sealed, a corporate housing company is expected to carry out inspection on the location. This will enable them know the required amount needed for renovating the property and the current market value of the property.

It is important to state that a corporate housing company may decide to improvise or adopt any business process and structure that will guarantee them efficiency and flexibility; the above stated corporate housing business process is not cast on stone.

  1. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies

Generally, running a business requires that you should be proactive when it comes to marketing your goods or services. If you choose to launch a corporate housing business, then you must employ strategies that will help you attract customers or else you will likely struggle with the business because there are well-known brands that determine the market direction of the business.

So, when you are drafting your marketing plans, make sure that you create a compelling company profile. Aside from your qualifications and experience in the Corporate Housing industry, it is important to clearly state what you have been able to achieve in time past. This will help boost your chances in the market place.

Here are some of the platforms you can utilize to market your corporate housing business;

  • Introduce your corporate housing company by sending introductory letters alongside your brochure to immigration consultants, estate managers, corporate organizations, small and medium scale businesses and other key stake holders throughout the city where your real estate development company is located.
  • Advertise on the internet on blogs and forums, and also on social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to get your message across
  • Create a basic website for your business so as to give your business an online presence
  • Directly market your services
  • Join local corporate housing business associations for industry trends and tips
  • Join local chambers of commerce and industry with the aim of marketing your services
  • Advertise our business in community – based newspapers, local TV and radio stations
  • List your business on yellow pages ads (local directories)
  • Encourage the use of word of mouth marketing (referrals)
  1. Work Out a Reasonable Pricing for your Services & Products

One key factor that will help you rent or lease your properties at a price that is highly attractive is to ensure that you source your startup capital from sources that won’t put pressure on you or give you high interest rate. So also, it is important that you purchase your properties directly from the owner of the property as against buying from a third-party dealer.

When it comes to building materials and electronics or house household gadgets, it is advisable that you also purchase them directly from the manufacturers or from wholesalers. Another strategy that will help you get the right price is to ensure that you cut operational cost to the barest minimum and channel your efforts towards marketing and promoting your brand name.

Aside from the fact that this strategy will help you save cost, it will also help you get the right pricing for your services. So also, if you are able to secure business partnership as it relates to getting referrals, then you will be able to get the right pricing and of course maximize profits from your business.

  1. Develop Iron-clad Competitive Strategies to Help You Win

The availability of a huge working capital base, your business process and of course your pricing model are part of what you need to stay competitive in the industry.

Another possible competitive strategy for winning your competitors in this particular industry is to build a robust clientele base and business network. Over and above, ensure that your organization is well positioned, key members of your team are highly qualified and your facilities and offers to investors can favorably compete with some of the best in the industry.

  1. Brainstorm Possible Ways to Retain Clients & Customers

When it comes to business, no matter the industry that you choose to pitch your tent in, one of the easiest ways to increase customer retention and perhaps attract new customers is to produce results and satisfy your customers always. If your customers are satisfied with your products and service delivery, they can hardly source for alternative service providers.

If your services and customer service fluctuate, you are likely going to struggle to get your customers retaining your services. Ensure that you offer your customers incentives if you want to retain them and of course continue to generate repeated sales from them and also to attract new customers.

Part of what you need to do to achieve this is to track progress, results or outputs with the aim of improving on them quickly as the case demands. When it comes to managing your customers and building a loyal clientele base, you should purchase a customized CRM software.

With a customized CRM system, you can easily stay in touch with your clients (you can carry out quick surveys, you can introduce new products and prices to them without any hitch, you can felicitate with them on their birthdays and other anniversaries, you can keep track of their progress, you can send bulk sms and customized e – mails and above all, you can easily receive compliant and feedback from them).

  1. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity

If you are in business and you are not conscious about boosting your brand awareness and communicating your corporate identity, then you should be ready to take on whatever the society portray your business to be. One of the secrets of larger corporations is that they are willing to spend good money to boost their brand awareness and to continue to communicate their corporate identity the way they want people to perceive them to be.

No matter the industry you belong to, the truth is that the market is dynamic and it requires consistent brand awareness and brand boosting cum promotion to continue to appeal to your target market. Here are the platforms you can leverage on to boost your brand and create a corporate identity for your corporate housing business;

  • Place adverts on both print (newspapers and real estate related magazines) and electronic media platforms
  • Sponsor relevant community – based events/programs
  • Leverage on the internet and social media platforms like; Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google + et al to promote your corporate housing business
  • Install your Bill Boards in strategic locations all around the locations where you operate
  • Distribute your fliers and handbills in target areas
  • List your corporate housing business in local directories/yellow pages
  • Advertise your corporate housing business in your official website and employ strategies that will help you pull traffic to the site.
  • Position your Flexi Banners at strategic positions in the locations where your corporate housing business operates.
  • Ensure that all your staff members wear your branded shirts and all your vehicles and vans are well branded with your company logo et al.